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Bill proposes $3 hour minimum

By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Oct. 23, 2008) - The Senate adopted floor amendments introduced to Senate Bill No. 7-77 or the Minimum Wage Act on Friday but deferred discussions on the proposed measure.

The floor amendments cover all employees - citizens or non-citizens - but it takes away other benefits that are given by employers to non-citizens employees like free housing and food allowance.

The floor amendments proposed a US$3 per hour minimum wage, the current minimum wage is US$2.50 per hour for Palauan workers while foreign workers have at least US$1.50 per hour.

The measure has been deferred many times on the floor because of the different views of the senators.

Earlier version of the measure proposed a minimum wage rate US$3.50 per hour.

In earlier discussions some senators argue that foreign workers get much more benefits that the foreign workers, although the former get a higher minimum pay.

The concern was that common argument of some senators is that employers have to provide housing and air fare for foreign workers but not to local workers.

The floor amendments proposed that the employee is responsible for the employees transportation to and from Palau and that the employer can deduct up to 25 percent of the employee’s salary per pay period to be used to pay for a return flight to be used to pay for the return flight to the place of the origin for the employee.

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